The First Congregational Church of Stoughton, 76 Pierce Street (across from Halloran Park), will observe the beginning of Lent with a service of prayer and repentance on Ash Wednesday, February 13, beginning at 7:00 pm. Communion will be served and those so desiring will receive the imposition of ashes. All are welcome!
Have you ever noticed how often the number 40 crops up in Bible stories?
Think about it – it rains 40 days and 40 nights while Noah and all those animals wait on the ark.
The ancient Hebrews spend 40 years wandering in the wilderness.
Moses spends forty days on Mt. Sinai and receives the Ten Commandments from God.
And Jesus spends 40 days in the wilderness.
In scripture, forty represents a time of spiritual transformation. It may be a time of trial, or introspection, or waiting which results in a renewed relationship with God.
On Ash Wednesday, which this year falls on February 13, Christians enter the 40-day season of Lent, which follows Jesus through to the last days of his earthly life. Lent has often been associated with “giving up” something, and the tradition of foregoing chocolate or some other guilty pleasure is rooted in the history of Lenten penance and fasting.
But such self-denial is not the purpose of Lent. Rather, we give up something in order to make room for God.
And so, during the upcoming season of Lent, why not trying “giving up” something and then fill that empty space by “taking up” something that will help you grow closer to God?
Here are some ideas:
On Sundays during Lent, give up spending the morning in your pajamas and take
up attending worship. There are many faith communities in Stoughton – and I bet there is one just right for you.
Every day during Lent, give up 15 minutes of sleep and use that extra time to take up spending the first moments of your morning with God in prayer.
Every day during Lent, give up a half hour reading the latest fiction thriller and take up reading a few pages of the Bible.
Throughout Lent, give up such attitudes pride, envy, and judgment and such behaviors as criticism, impatience, and unkind speech; then take up Jesus’
command to love one another.
During Lent, give up the computer one evening a week. Instead, take up serving others by giving of yourself -- visit a person who is lonely or homebound; serve supper at a homeless shelter; knit a prayer shawl to give to someone who is ill; put together health kits to send overseas. (If you don’t know where to begin, give me a call and I connect you.)
During Lent, give up buying anything but essentials for yourself. Instead, take up giving the money you save away; what you might spend on luxuries could help someone else meet basic needs. So rather than buying that grande half caff
white chocolate mocha frappucchino, why not skip the fancy coffee and buy some
canned goods for the Stoughton Food Pantry?
And so, there you have it --- some ideas to help you grow closer to God during 40 days of Lent. Blessings on your journey!
OUR WELCOME STATEMENT
Here at the First Congregational Church of Stoughton, United Church of Christ, we
celebrate the diversity of God’s creation and affirm the dignity and worth of every person as created in the image of God [Genesis 1:27].
Living in openness to the Voice of the Still Speaking God, and following the Greatest Commandment of Jesus Christ to love God and neighbor, we extend an extravagant welcome to all persons of every age, race, nationality, ethnicity, faith
background, marital status, family structure, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, socio-economic status, physical or mental disability, affirming that we are all members of the family of God.
We invite all into the full life and ministry of our church, including worship,
sacraments, rites, covenants, fellowship, leadership, employment, commitments,
blessings, and joys.
No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here.
For directions and more information about us, call the church at 781-344-2371 or log on to www.uccstoughton.org.
First Congregational Church of Stoughton
An Open and Affirming Congregation of the United Church of Christ
76 Pierce Street, Stoughton, MA 02072
Rev. Jean Niven Lenk, Pastor